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5 from 4 votes

Best Spaghetti Sauce

The best stovetop spaghetti sauce is packed with ground beef and Italian sausage. The tomato-based sauce is rich and hearty, the perfect topping for any spaghetti recipe.
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword best spaghetti sauce, homemade spaghetti sauce, spaghetti meat sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings 16 cups
Calories 113kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 29 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ¼ cup sugar (or start with 2 tablespoons for a less-sweet sauce)
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • For serving: cooked spaghetti, Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh parsley or basil


  • In a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, cook sausage and ground beef over medium heat for 6 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break apart the meat. Add the onion and garlic; cook and stir until the meat is no longer pink, about 4 more minutes. Drain off the fat.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, red wine, sugar, salt, Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 2 ½ - 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, or sugar, if necessary.
  • Serve over cooked spaghetti; garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.


  • Use different types of meat: For instance, try 2 lbs. of ground beef and omit the sausage, or use 2 lbs. of Italian sausage and omit the ground beef. Other good options include ground turkey, ground chicken, and ground pork.
  • Make it spicy: increase the amount of cayenne, to taste. You can also garnish individual servings with crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Instead of the dried Italian seasoning blend, use fresh herbs when available. Nice options include fresh basil, fresh oregano, fresh rosemary, and fresh thyme. Just taste and season as you go!
  • Sliced fresh mushrooms are a great addition to the sauce. I leave them out because my boys don't love them, but my mom's spaghetti sauce always includes mushrooms!
  • I like the rich flavor of the spaghetti meat sauce with red wine. Don’t worry — the alcohol cooks off! That said, if you would rather not use wine in this recipe, you can substitute with an extra cup of water.
  • For a smaller pot of sauce, cut all of the ingredients in half. The rest of the cooking instructions remain the same.
  • Use a dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot.
  • Add sugar. In order to achieve great tomato flavor, it's important to balance acidity and sweetness. Too much acid or too much sugar yields a sauce that tastes one-dimensional. The right amount of sugar perfectly balances the acidity of the tomatoes. I generally prefer ¼ cup of sugar in this recipe; however, if you're working with particularly sweet tomatoes, or if you like a less-sweet sauce, you can start with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar. Give the sauce a taste and add more, if necessary. Similarly, if you like a sweeter sauce, you may want to increase the sugar and use up to ½ cup.
  • Simmer the sauce over very low heat. Stir occasionally, as well. This will prevent any scorching or burning on the bottom of your pot.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs for a bright touch that balances the rich, hearty sauce. A sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese is also delicious!


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 113kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 651mg | Potassium: 397mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 425IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg